Dear Potato News Today readers, please find here a few quotations that we selected from news items published on our site the past couple of weeks. We believe these reflect the current state of affairs in different sectors of the potato industry, and in several countries around the world.
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Talking Biotech: Where did GMOs come from? Former Monsanto scientist Robb Fraley recounts the advent of biotech crops
On the five-year anniversary of the Talking Biotech podcast published on the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) website, host and plant geneticist Kevin Folta sits down with former Monsanto chief technology officer Robb Fraley. He recalls the race to transform plants and his work as a leader at Monsanto. While the company did important work to advance crop biotechnology, Fraley says, Monsanto made little effort to explain genetic engineering to food companies, the media and consumers and was thus unprepared for the backlash against GMOs in the 1990s.
Shoppers are racing to get their hands on McCain’s classic Potato Smiles after the nostalgic snack disappeared from Australian supermarket shelves five years ago. Thousands of Australians have been rallying for years to bring back the iconic childhood treat after it was discontinued in 2015. ‘For many Australians, these are something they’ve looked back on fondly as part of their childhood. After years of build-up, it’s heartening to know that they’re meeting expectations,’ McCain Foods marketing manager ANZ Karen Ramsay said.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) says in its latest potato report that retail demand in Ireland remains buoyant, and as restrictions ease further on June 29th and restaurants can re-open, growers are reminded to supply the peeling market where possible. Once again rainfall across Europe in the past week was welcomed. Not everyone has had rain and some areas including Northern Holland and parts of Eastern England remain very dry.
United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) has released its latest crop update. Kevin MacIsaac, General Manager, reports that the Canadian potato crop is in the “growing stage”. There is a recurring theme from coast to coast: It is dry – but the crop is not suffering yet because it is in the early stages of development, but does need rain soon. UPGC provides a snapshot of the crop status and market across Canada
Potato System reports that the Irrico Group of Companies in Russia signed a contract with Frito Lay Manufacturing LLC to supply Stavropol-grown potatoes for the production of the Lay’s brand chips. The Irrico group is involved in intensive crop and vegetable farming on 29,000 hectares of crop land in the Stavropol Territory in the south of Russia. This year, Irrico plans to harvest more than 50,000 tons of potatoes.
While the headlines are full of companies calling it quits over these historic setbacks, one Oregon farm is going big with a new product launch called SpudLove potato chips, according to the Oregon Family Farm Association. They report that SpudLove Snacks is making its newest potato chips with spuds grown at Threemile Canyon Farms in Boardman, harvested by fifth-generation potato farmers. In touting its five flavors of 100 percent organic chips.
You cannot use what’s happening above ground as a guide to what’s happening below, according to new research into alternative desiccants. A key finding from research work in the UK is that the rate of foliage desiccation does not correlate well with that of skinset, the key to harvesting without damage. The discovery was among the key findings of a project examining the best alternative desiccants to diquat carried out by NIAB CUF on behalf of AHDB in the UK. The research focused on the ‘hard to stop’ situations such as indeterminate varieties and seed crops.
Since the first research project was initiated there in May 1967, the Biotron Laboratory on the west end of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus has been one of a few research centers in the world capable of simulating a range of environmental variables with precision and control for studying plants, animals, materials and materials. The Wisconsin Seed Potato Certification Tissue Culture Laboratory has conducted its research at Biotron.
A Lamb Weston employee died in an industrial accident at the company’s Twin Falls facility Wednesday morning, according to a news release by Associated Press. Sadia Kawa, 48, of Twin Falls, died in the accident, Twin Falls County Coroner Gene Turley said. Lamb Weston makes frozen potato products in Twin Falls that are sold to restaurants and retailers throughout the United States.
Dr Eugenia Banks, potato specialist working in Ontario, Canada, yesterday took a picture of one of several spore trap devices in operation on potato farms in that region. Earlier this week Dr Banks reported in her regular email newsletter that most of the fields in central Ontario that were planted in early May are filling the rows, and she said tuber size is good so far. Dr Banks mentioned that more Colorado potato beetles (CPBs) than usual are observed by potato scouts in Ontario. She asks: “if insecticide resistance is ruled out, what could be the reason for seeing more CPBs this season?”
Remember those tonnes of potatoes local Maltese farmers couldn’t sell because of COVID-19? Well, it seems Malta’s foreign affairs ministry has found a kind-hearted solution, Sam Vassallo reports in Lovin Malta. .Next week, Malta will donate around 500 tonnes of local potatoes to Nambia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed.
Late blight is the most destructive potato disease in the world. It affects all potato producers (small-scale, commercial, seed producers, even urban producers) and the annual losses in developing countries are estimated at EUR 10?billion. Toward this end, the International Potato Center (CIP), in partnership with research and development institutions in Ecuador and Peru, has developed a low-tech tool to help farmers optimize fungicide use.
The 2020 storage season is the first where store managers in Europe cannot apply Chlorpropham (CIPC) in store. However, they have an important job to do in reducing CIPC levels left over from previous applications, in order to meet any forthcoming temporary maximum residue level (tMRL) for future crops. AHDB Potatoes expect any tMRL that is announced to be set at a level that is achievable for the industry – but only if a rigorous programme of cleaning is followed.
In this interview, Pepsico Vice President of Sustainability, Christine Daugherty, speaks with demonstration farmer Ketsarin Boonkerd on how PepsiCo is supporting smallholder farmers and helping them flourish. Ms. Boonkerd is a potato farmer in Thailand. By adopting sustainable farming practices such as drip irrigation, with PepsiCo’s support, she grew her yield by 45% and reduced her water use by 28% in just one year. She also increased her income by $1,500 per acre. Today, Ms. Boonkerd helps farmers in her community and beyond to see the value in these more-sustainable farming practices.
The Tuberzone project addresses the benefits of using precision technology to optimise the value of seed potato crops in the UK. Tuberzone partners support the use of Tuberzone software, developed by SoilEssentials, to help farmers make decisions on when to stop tuber growth to maximise yield, quality and value of Gemson seed potatoes.
It’s been great weather for going to the beach, and not bad yet for potato farmers, but they are going to need the weather to turn soon, reports the CBC’s Kevin Yarr. The Island has seen two heat waves in the last week, and the dry spell goes back to the beginning of April. A dry spring is not necessarily a bad thing, said Donald. It’s good for planting if the fields aren’t muddy, because it’s easy to get farm equipment on to them.
Increasing food security in areas that are hard to access. This is one of the ideas behind an important potato innovation by HZPC: hybrid potato breeding. This innovation has been under development for many years. And now it’s time for the next step. Seed potatoes from hybrid potatoes grow successfully on the well-known ‘ridges’ and now also in so-called ‘beds’. Flower bulbs are grown in this type of bed too.
Canadian growers and scouts can now download three scouting resources from the Potatoes in Canada website that will help them know when and what to scout for in potato fields. On May 21 and 28, 2020, Potatoes in Canada hosted a webinar series with Eugenia Banks, potato specialist with the Ontario Potato Board, on how to scout pests, diseases and physiological disorders in potatoes. In addition to the webinar series, Banks has made her scouting resources available as PDFs for download.
Sencrop has announced that it has been chosen as a Trimble Select Partner for agriculture. Under the Trimble Select Partner Program, Sencrop’s connected ag-weather stations will be available to customers through the Trimble and Vantage™ distribution networks in the European Union (EU) and in the United Kingdom (UK) as part of Trimble’s marketplace dedicated to precision agriculture. Sencrop is the only fully connected ag-weather ecosystem in Europe.
Calbee Inc., a leading Japanese producer of potato chips and other snack foods, will extend teleworking indefinitely for the 20 percent of its workforce in the country currently doing so. The company announced the decision June 25 after noticing its operational efficiency had significantly improved since the 800 or so Calbee employees at its head office and around the country began teleworking in late March due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
A beleaguered industry: British potato growers expected to deliver higher quality products with less irrigation water
The British potato industry is under pressure due to increased expectations of potato quality from the supermarkets. Previous studies have shown that irrigation plays a crucial role in reducing common scab, but water resources are less available than before, says AHDB Potatoes in a recent news release. AHDB points out that water resources have diminished over recent years, becoming more expensive and less available due to strict licencing.